Leader Blues

Monday, July 09, 2007

TOP STORY >>Residents complain of sewer runoff

IN SHORT: North Pulaski residents worried about polluted water flowing into area stream.

By JEFFREY SMITH
Leader staff writer

North Pulaski County residents living near Blue Bayou Creek are worried about sewer run-off they say has been flowing for some time into the stream from nearby Phil Rod Acres Mobile Home Park.

The trailer park, owned by B.J. Currier and operated by his son Phillip, is located on Hwy. 89 West near the Hwy. 5 intersection. Although it lies in rural north Pulaski County, the property has a Cabot address.

Eighteen neighbors of Blue Bayou met last Thursday to discuss the pollution they say has been flowing downstream for years.
“We want the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to pull Currier’s wastewater permit and clean up our creek,” Blue Bayou resident Robin Standridge said.

“The water running through the creek belongs to the state. We have to pay state taxes on our land,” she said.

Doug Szenher, program support manager for ADEQ said, “It appears to be on track with compliance. The system needs the operator to monitor and care for the equipment. They need to know how to add chemicals correctly and take water samples to the laboratory. The sewer treatment plant is an efficient enough operation to handle 5,000 gallons per day of discharge. The mobile home park is only at 3,000 gallons or less,” Szenher said.

Although Phillip Currier de-clined to be interviewed by The Leader, he said in a written statement, “We have recently upgraded our septic treatment facility and have worked closely with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to insure the system complies with the standards they have set forth. We will continue to improve Philrod Acres and work with ADEQ to improve our park for our residents.”

But Currier was ordered to pay a $1,100 fine on May 22 by ADEQ for violating fecal-coliform-bacteria-permit limits last August.

Homeowner Pat Hall said, “The smell would knock you down. The flies and mosquitoes are so bad that we can’t have cookouts. The sewage entered the creek from a pipe on the other side of the road. It turned the water milky.” Her house is beside the creek across from the trailer court.

ADEQ sampled sewage water from the park’s treatment pipe into Blue Bayou on August 8, 2006. The sample had 1,500 bacteria colonies per 100 milliliters. Only 400 colonies per 100 milliliters per week are permitted.

Fecal coliform bacteria are found in animal intestines and can naturally occur in the soil. When the bacteria are present in water or sludge, it is an indicator of pollution.

Currier is also required to monitor water pH semi-monthly at least two weeks apart from May 1 to Oct. 31. Results are sent to ADEQ.

In a September 2006 ADEQ document, Currier responded to ADEQ findings, stating run-off water from neighboring properties was entering the stream. Liquid caustic soda and baking soda were added to the trailer park’s treatment plant to clean the water.

“The location of the mobile home park doesn’t bother us, it is the dumping of sewer water. It is a health risk to our family. The water was clean, and I used it for the garden. Weeds and bushes are thick in the creek. Last summer the brush was cut, and now it’s all overgrown,” said Hall.

State Rep. Sandra Prater (D-Jacksonville) said, “This is an on-going situation. If the mobile home park were in compliance with the ADEQ permit, the test results from the creek would prove that. The sampling protects both the neighbors and the trailer park owner.”

According to ADEQ documents, Currier’s trailer park has been out of compliance off and on for five years with state and Pulaski County regulations for sewer waste. The Arkansas Department of Health requires “when a mobile home park is constructed, properly prepared plans and specifications for such construction shall be submitted for approval before such work is begun.”

On July 2006, the ADEQ inspection water samples at the stream had a pH level of 4.66 and ammonia-nitrogen of 11.2 mg per liter. Both were violations of the permit limits. The ADEQ water inspection samples for January and June 2006 were within compliance. But Currier reported permit violations with the treatment plant to ADEQ four times during that time.

High levels of ammonia-nitrogen, pH, and carbonaceous-biochemical-oxygen demand were recorded. CBOD is a measure of organic matter not broken down in the treatment plant. Sources of CBOD include human waste and garbage disposals. CBOD removes oxygen from the water.

For the months of August and September 2005, water samples were in compliance with the permit. In July 2005, an earlier complaint was investigated by ADEQ about sewage pumped into the creek. At the time, the discharge pipe was capped off and there were no visible solids from a discharge.

During the inspection, the pipe was destroyed by the Highway Department working on the nearby bridge. This allowed a small drip from the pipe.

The samples taken from a pool of water near the plant contained high fecal coliform bacteria at 2,700 colonies per 100 milliliters. The cause of the bacteria could not be determined. A week later a sample showed the water quality was within standards for fecal coliform at 144 colonies per 100 milliliters.

Another complaint of visible sewage in the creek to ADEQ on March 2005 was found invalid.

An emergency order was issued in October 2004 by ADEQ requiring Currier to immediately stop discharging from the wastewater treatment system, and have the waste pumped and hauled to an authorized disposal facility. Currier was order to pay a $2,000 fine. Since September 2003 there were 38 self-reported violations of the permit.

A fecal coliform sample on Sep-tember 2004 exceeded 300,000 colonies per 100 milliliters, another violation of ADEQ permitted limit. Additional hook-ups to the treatment plant exceeded the 3,000-gallons-per-day design flow.

The park was in violation from March thru November 2002 with ADH. In November an inspection by ADEQ revealed construction on the sewer site had not started. Sewage was discharged from a malfunctioning septic tank system onto the ground.

Plans for the mobile home park were submitted and approved by ADH in October 2002. The approval was for 21 bedrooms with a stipulation that ADH must approve additional trailers. ADH recommended getting an easement from the property owner east of where treated water would flow.

“Any additional improvements should cease and desist until approval is obtained,” Robert Hart, chief engineer with ADH wrote in a letter dated April 2002.

“The soil in Phil Rod Acres is unsuitable for wastewater disposal. A sewer treatment plant system is needed,” according to a March 2002 letter from Jeannie Kyle, an environmental health specialist with the Pulaski County Health Department’s Jacksonville Health Unit.